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World Club Challenge
Elland Road, 29 February, 2007

Result: Leeds 11-4 Melbourne


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By Paresh Soni

FULL-TIME: Leeds 11-4 Melbourne
Rhinos fans are in full voice now after a famous victory in quite appalling conditions. Take a bow Brian McClennan - a World Club Challenge trophy in his fifth game. But what damage have those injuries done to their Super League bid? They probably won't care right now though.

For the moment, the Super League itself can celebrate a fifth straight win over their Aussie rivals. That's all for me, thank you for keeping me company!

77 mins: Melbourne throw the kitchen sink at Leeds and the ball is worked out on the wing to Will Chambers, who grounds the ball next to the corner flag - after putting his left foot into touch. That should be game set and match for the Rhinos.

76 mins: Running wounded for Leeds - now centre Keith Senior comes off with an ankle problem. The home side look set to pay a price of some sort for a monumental victory. How heavy, we'll find out in the next few days.

73 mins: Melbourne have a great opportunity with a new set of six tackles 20m out following petulance from Lee Smith but the move comes to nothing and Leeds relieve the pressure with a goalline dropout.

"Time for Leeds to keep hold of the ball, complete their sets of six and tire Melbourne out."
HWD on 606

69 mins: GOAL Leeds 11-4 Melbourne
Great piece of vision and execution sees quick ball worked to Kevin Sinfield, who makes no mistake from in front of the posts and that should be that.

66 mins: A fantastic kick from Rob Burrow splits the Melbourne defence and is collected by Carl Ablett, via his knee. He strolls over for the clinching score. But no! The video ref correctly spots a slight touch from Ablett's left index finger and it will not stand.

63 mins: Brilliant take from Lee Smith following a crosskick from Cooper Cronk. Will Chambers, who has been otherwise excellent, was not interested in going for that and Leeds survive another set of six.

60 mins: PENALTY Leeds 10-4 Melbourne
Hmm, first Cristiano Ronaldo, now Kevin Sinfield. There's chat about a laser being shone into Sinfield's eyes but the Rhinos skipper makes no mistake with a long-range penalty after Jeff Lima is penalised for an illegal tackle on Rob Burrow.

58 mins: Leeds full-back Brent Webb slopes off gingerly after a crunching tackle and he, too, looks in trouble.

56 mins: Another error from Melbourne, centre Will Chambers knocks on to give Leeds more respite. The Storm look like they are running out of ideas.

54 mins: Despite those problems, it's going the Rhinos' way at the moment and wonderkid Israel Folau is sloppily caught off-side after a kick from Cooper Cronk.

51 mins: More injury woe for Leeds, Clinton Toopi is off with what seems a shoulder problem and that's the last we'll see of him.

48 mins: Long kick sideways from Cooper Cronk - what a name by the way - on the last tackle leads to nothing despite some basketball-style play involving Israel Folau. Leeds' defence has been outstanding at times.

"Good game of rugby, despite the weather. The rhinos have got their measure..."
Lfw on 606

43 mins: It may not be warm high up in the stands but it's heating up on the pitch. Nick Scruton launches a massive hit on Matt Geyer and the crowd love it. If we didn't know it already, both teams are desperate to win this one.

42 mins: A bit of afters break out when Clinton Toopi throws a wayward pass and gets involved in some fisticuffs with Anthony Quinn. No penalty, though, just a defensive scrum for Melbourne.

41 mins: Storm winger Steve Turner has not come out for the second half, having suffered concussion.

2031: It's absolutely tipping it down and the wind's swirling viciously. Can't imagine the Melbourne players see much of this! They're doing very well though, especially considering this is their first serious game since September!

2022: Leeds coach Brian McLennan is a very animated figure in the dressing room while counterpart Craig Bellamy cuts a calm figure of authority. How telling is that?

HALF-TIME: Leeds 8-4 Melbourne
Rhinos go in looking much happier than they were for long spells in that first half. They've breached the famed Storm rearguard with their best move of the first 40 minutes and, though the loss of Danny McGuire is a blow, they are on course for another momentous victory to emulate their win over Canterbury in 2005.

38 mins: TRY Leeds 8-4 Melbourne
Great invention from Brent Webb, who weaves across the Storm defence on the 20m line and produces a beauty of a pass to Scott Donald out on the wing and after a delay while the video ref looks into a suggestion of obstruction, the try is awarded. Kevin Sinfield kicks over the extra two points in quite wonderful fashion from the touchline and Leeds looks set to go into the break with the advantage.

37 mins: The biggest cheer of the night so far as Leeds are awarded a relieving penalty. It's been attritional stuff - no surprise in the conditions.

35 mins: A delightful dink from Rob Burrows is well read by Brent Webb but the full-back can't keep hold of the ball and another semi-opportunity goes begging.

30 mins: Leeds are not taking the openings that are coming there way. Confusion in the Melbourne defence sees the ball bouncing around invitingly close to the line but the Rhinos fail to take advantage and give away a penalty with more ill-discipline.

28 mins: Encouragement for the Rhinos as Carl Ablett puts in a big hit and Cooper Cronk shanks his up-and-under into touch.

26 mins: We have a storm brewing in every sense now, driving rain, howling winds, you name it. This is great! Danny McGuire, who was shaken by a big hit moments earlier, is off and heads straight to the dressing room - bad news for the hosts.

22 mins: The rain is coming down hard now and Rhinos full-back Brent Webb spills the ball to prove how tricky it is.

20 mins: Anthony Quinn majestically fields a high bomb and the Aussies are looking as solid as many had predicted. The mistakes have come from Leeds so far.

"Playing in this weather is really going to mess up the pitch.It should be played on a rugby pitch and not a fooball pitch."
GG on 606

16 mins: TRY Leeds 2-4 Melbourne
Leeds get into trouble after Rob Burrow's knock-on and a slick passing move ends with Cooper Cronk finding Ryan Hoffman, who brilliantly darts over for the Storm. Steve Turner is well off target with his attempt at the extras but, in these conditions, that was no gimme.

11 mins: PENALTY Leeds 2-0 Melbourne
Billy Slater is too skilful for his own good. After fielding the ball brilliantly from Rob Burrow's dink through he plays a pass off the ground and gives away a penalty right in front of the sticks. Kevin Sinfield kicks over for the first points for Leeds.

8 mins: Melbourne full-back Billy Slater has made a bright start and Danny McGuire is penalised for trying to slow him down after the tackle and the signs don't look good for Leeds so far.

6 mins: Another penalty for a high tackle leaves the English champions under pressure and dangerman Israel Folau is held just short of the line. An escape for the Rhinos.

5 mins: The Storm opt for a short kick after being awarded a penalty - no chances being taken in these conditions.

1 min: We're under way and Leeds start busily but that strong defence keeps the Rhinos out. The wind already looks like it will play a part with two early kicks from Leeds holding up.

1929: The Storm players give each other a final hug in the changing room.

1928: "I'm looking forward to this game immensly, this is our first real game of league to watch for months as we are still in the middle of trials. So to get a taste of the fair-dinkum stuff is great."
Southsydneynrl on 606

1918: Conditions are blustery, to say the least, so kicking should be interesting. Storm have a watertight defence, which underpinned their triumph last year, so the Rhinos will have to be solid themselves.

1916: This is what Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington told BBC Sport in the lead-up to the game: "The NRL is an all-time high in terms of its standards, interest levels and crowd levels and everything else.

"But I believe that the gap has been closing and that we have two very similar competitions and that whoever wins on Friday can quite rightly be crowned and take the title of the world's best rugby league game."

1915: The Aussies have won only two out of the previous eight clashes, losing the last four.

1913: Leeds start as favourites, having won their opening four games in Super League. They are at full-strength and hope to continue a good record for English teams in this fixture.

1912: Storm are without hooker Cameron Smith, regarded as the best player in the world, and Greg Inglis. They do have plenty of star quality in their ranks, though, none shining more brightly than centre Israel Folau, who has already invited comparisons with the great Mal Meninga.

1911: The Storm's build-up has been, er, stormy. Their luggage didn't turn up when they arrived and they were woken up in the wee hours of Tuesday by an earthquake. Their season is two weeks away and they have not been convincing in their preparation games so far against Manly and Halifax. Indeed they felt the need to have a full contact training session with Hull FC.

1905: Who are Melbourne Storm? Well, by all accounts, they've been the best rugby league team in Australia's NRL for the past two years and proved it by thrashing Manly in the Grand Final last September.

1900: Right, Friday evening, the two best club rugby league teams in the world, packed house at Elland Road. What better way to get the weekend underway? No, forget your night out at the movies, romantic dinner and all that malarkey - this is the place to be of course!

Leeds boss braced for final Storm
27 Feb 08 |  Rugby League
Melbourne Storm name strong squad
15 Feb 08 |  Rugby League
Melbourne take Grand Final glory
30 Sep 07 |  Rugby League
St Helens 6-33 Leeds Rhinos
13 Oct 07 |  Rugby League


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